Relationship Between Language and Society

Topic: How does the contact between languages reflect the contact between societies? Can language be used as evidence of asymmetric relationships between groups and societies? Can the use of language create asymmetric relationships?

I think that a language can clearly show the relationships between different societies and language can be used to show the relationship between racial groups. Languages are created with the use of biological factors of humans. For example, for a language to exist, first sounds have to be produced using the mouth and different racial groups have similar languages. This is because according to their biological setup, the sounds that are used often in their language are the sounds that are easier to produce. For example this is why all “asian” languages are very similar as well as most “african” languages. This is clear evidence that languages can be used to link different groups and societies due to their biological make-up. Another great example is as simple as the word “Mom” or “Mother”. In the english language the word “Mom” is used to define the female parent of a human offspring. In Turkish this word is “Anne”. I think that according to the biological make-up of different races, the word for a mother is the word easiest for a human inphant to pronounce and produce, maybe a sign of evolution. Why do you think that all animal newborns of the same species have the same “call” for their mothers when under danger? It is simply because it is the sound that’s easiest for them to produce and we can say that this applies to all humans of different races. So possibly we can say that around all of Europe, the word for mother is very similar to “Mom” or “Mama” and this means that all Europeans are very close/similar to each other in terms of biological make-up. In conclusion, this is why I think that languages that are very similar to each other can be used to show biological similarities and possible relationships between racial groups and societies.

8 thoughts on “Relationship Between Language and Society

  1. I find your topic very interesting. The origin of language is a very deep and interesting topic. Languages are made so that our everyday life goes more smoothly. I would like to elaborate on the topic of the similarities of some languages. As you might know from the discussions made in class, the sounds we make with our mouths. The sounds we make are affected by the temperature humidity and other factors of the environment that we live in.

  2. From what I understand, the reason why different species have different ways, or sounds, of calling out to their mother is that the sound they make is the easiest they can make. Do you think that other possible reasons why this happens could be that there needs to be diversity in the sounds that these animals make in order to make sure there is no much confusion? Or do you think it is also possible that the reason why these species have different sounds is that they have different features that allow them make the sound that you described as easier to make?

  3. The similarities in all of the world’s languages are surely undeniable, yet the same thing applies for their differences. The geographical locations of the societies, their populations, their social rules and norms surely affect their language. Sometimes, as it also happens in historical linguistics, it may not be possible to link the languages of two different cultures and show that they are “similar”. For example, as it was discussed in class, the word for “fire” in Takaneko is incredibly different from the word for fire in Spanish, even though the regions these languages are spoken are very close and the people who speak them possess many biological similarities. Thus, I believe that the language of the people being drastically different may not always entitle that the people speaking the different languages are biologically different. What is your viewpoint on isolation and geographical factors (mountains, islands) affecting the languages of communities?

  4. Demir, your blog post was very interesting! I really liked the part discussing the biological make-up of the different races. However, I don’t necessarily agree with the point you made that words are determined solely by biological make-up of the races. While this may have a major affect on the development of the language, doesn’t social interaction also produce these developments? Related languages are called related because they stem from similar languages, not because the people that speak them are necessarily similar biologically speaking. In other words, how much of a language’s development is dependent on the biology of the speakers, and how much on the interaction its people have with other social groups?

  5. I enjoyed reading your blog post. I think you are completely right on the grounds that language can show differences between races because I believe that cultures produce different races, and with almost every different culture comes a different language. Of course, these languages can be similar, or can be other forms of the same language. This is very essential or important as we can then relate different languages with different cultures, and we can observe changes to note any other activity. I completely agree with you on your assumptions because I have observed this happening throughout the several places I have been to and because of my background knowledge.

  6. Thank you all for the comments. I guess I would like to begin by saying that you all make reasonable and very good points. I do agree with all of you that language isn’t solely affected by biological make-up only. Language is also affected by social relationships, the geographical setting (as derya said) and also organisms that might be around that area. I think it mostly comes down to the Race. According to the setting the Race is different and yes I do agree, sometimes similar races might not always have similar languages (Derya) but i think that is mostly because of the cultures formed. Everything is related together and that’s why it’s not an easy question to answer. The race (or biological make-up) is affected by the geography, the weather maybe and the race affects the behaviour of the human, as well as other factors like again, the geographical location. According to the different behaviours influenced by these factors, social relationships are formed and according to those relationships, languages or ways of communicating are formed. Another idea that comes to mind is that humans are sure to be influenced by other animals. When humans first walked on earth, they watched other animals and got influenced by them whether it was hunting, skill, strenght or whether it was as simple as making noises. This is just an idea but it is kind of interesting and reasonable to think about the possibilities of humans being influenced by animals that they’re surrounded with and constantly hearing from day to day. Think about it :)

  7. The structure of languages has no relationship to the physical characteristics of “race.” The concept of race itself is socially constructed. Regions that an outsider might consider racially homogeneous have incredible linguistic variety. Look at West Africa or Mesoamerica. There is nothing inherent in the sound of “fire” in Takaneko that has anything to do with the shape of Mayan heads, or with the nature of fire.

    As far as the example of “mother”, it’s simply a matter of a voiced nasal consonant, m or n, as a near universal. In Mayan babies are taught (yes, taught) to say “nan”. Babies would not say “mama” if mothers didn’t repeat it to them first.

    When a baby from one nationality is adopted into the family of another nationality, that child has no more difficulty learning the local language than his adopted siblings. Likewise, when a family moves to another country and the child is reared in the local language but not in the parents’ language, the child will have the same difficulty speaking the parents’ language as another non-native speaker.

    In the community where I grew up, our family doctor adopted two Korean children as babies. They grew up speaking English as their first language just like the rest of us, same Michigan accent, American ‘r’ and everything.

    So, please be very careful when attributing cultural differences to the evolution of different races.

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